U.S. PTO’s patents commissioner set to retire

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 29, 2015

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner for Patents Margaret “Peggy” Focarino will retire this summer.

An email reportedly was sent to PTO employees Tuesday. In it, Focarino announced she will step down effective July 3.


A spokesman for the PTO confirmed the report Wednesday.


Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and PTO Director Michelle Lee issued a statement in response, calling Focarino “an inspiration.”

“Since 1977, when she began her career as a patent examiner, she has proven to be a role model of professionalism and dedication,” Lee said. “Her tenure as commissioner for patents occurred at a historic moment in the patent system’s 225-year history, during the enactment of the transformative America Invents Act.


“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with her over the last several years, and congratulate her on an extremely successful career.”


Focarino was appointed to her current post in January 2012, taking over for former Commissioner Robert Stoll, who announced his retirement in December 2011.


Focarino had been with the PTO for more than 34 years before she moved into Stoll’s position, working as a patent examiner for 12 years and then a supervisory patent examiner starting in 1989. She was promoted to the Senior Executive Service in 1997.


In January 2005, she was promoted again, this time to deputy commissioner for patent operations, providing administrative oversight to nine Patent Technology Centers and coordinating the activities of patent application examination and reissues of patents.


In current her role as commissioner, Focarino manages and leads the Patent Organization as the chief operating officer. She is responsible for the management and direction of all aspects of the organization that affect the administration of patent operations, examination policy, resources and planning, and budget administration.


She received the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award in 1993 for her work as a patent examiner, and the Department of Commerce Silver Medal for leadership in 2010 for leading a joint union and management task force that developed and implemented the first significant changes to the patent examiner work credit system in more than 30 years.


Focarino earned her undergraduate degree in physics from the State University of New York, and a certificate in advanced public management from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.


Over the years, she has been a strong advocate for independent inventors and small business initiatives.


From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at patents@legalnewsline.com.

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